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Amateur Sugar Maker by Noel Perrin

By Noel Perrin

Perrin's offers this pleasant account of creating a sugarhouse and makingmaple sugar in Vermont.

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We agreed I'd look them over back at the house, it being probably a little below zero in that barn. Mr. Illsley said I could take what I wanted for three cents each. ''Guess you don't want the tank," he added casually. "Well, I might get it," I said even more casually. "It is sound. " "Sound? You won't find a tighter one," he said. " I observed that it needed a new hose, and he agreed. Then I said I wanted to pay what it was worth. He said, well, twenty-five dollars seemed about right, and after a suitable hesitation I agreed.

Come spring, each farmer, grasping his narrow axe like Thoreau, would head for his sugar orchard. When he reached the first tree, he'd give it a good whack. " Then he'd swing his axe once more and give a final, slightly harder whack an inch below. Into this bottom cut he stuck a broad chip of wood. Sap would then trickle down the bark, out to the end of the chip, and drip into a little trough set underneath. The settler had made the trough himself, by the simple process of hollowing out a piece of pine log.

Page 47 Before he left, Mr. Stowell took an appreciative look at the new red paint on the metal frame, and at the shining pans, and his own trim brickwork. "Nice to start with a new one," he said. "I got mine in the Depression. Money was scarce. You could hear a dime drop anywhere in Vermont. But I'd saved a little here and there. Thought I'd Page 48 better get a new one. " He went so far as to give the back pan a friendly slap, as if it had been a horse's neck. " Hydrometer Page 49 Casks and Buckets A sugarhouse and an evaporator are all very well, but you still need sap.

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